From CFI – Paying for Non-Evidence Based Health Care

The Office of Public Policy of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank an lobby devoted to science and reason in public policy, has issued a report warning of attempts by notorious CAM booster Tom Harkin and others to insert language into health care reform legislation that would prevent “discrimination” against CAM providers. This means that insurance companies, and any public health funding, would be required to pay for services regardless of whether they work! The report discusses Therapeutic Touch as an example, and there’s always the Big Three of CAM (Homeopathy, Acupuncture, and Chiropractic, which are often already paid for by insurance)but it’s not hard to imagine even more ridiculous methods getting protection from “discrimination.” How about faith healing, psychic surgery, aromatherapy, and so on? Isn’t the $2.5 billion in taxpayer dollars we’ve already wasted on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine enough?!

The report’s conclusion sums up clearly and cogently why we should all contact our representatives and oppose the efforts to use health care reform as a back door to require funding of unproven and outright quack therapies:

“The Center for Inquiry strongly urges that the government should spend no taxpayer dollars in support of any alleged medical treatments or healing protocols, such as Therapeutic Touch, that have no grounding in experiment or in our understanding of basic scientific fact. The United States faces an urgent challenge in attempting to make quality health care available to those who need it, while simultaneously reining in the ballooning cost of medical care. Every dollar of health care funding is needed to provide tested, proven medical treatment to those who require it. It is inexcusable to squander scarce resources by funding unsubstantiated, non-evidence-based medical techniques that have no basis in theory or experiment.”

Here is are sample letters I sent to my senators and representative on this topic. Anyone who wishes to is free to use them as templates for contacting your own legislators on the subject.

Senator X,

I am writing to urge you to oppose a recent amendment to the Health Care Reform Bill offered by Senator Tom Harkin (Sec 2713 Non Discrimination in Health Care, http://help.senate.gov/BAI09I50_xml.pdf). This amendment would force insurers and any government health plan to cover unproven or outright useless alternative medical therapies not based on any reasonable scientific evidence.  As one of your constituents, I strongly support the following statement from a recent position paper on this topic from the Center for Inquiry about this topic:

“the government should spend no taxpayer dollars in support of any alleged medical treatments or healing protocols…that have no grounding in experiment or in our understanding of basic scientific fact. The United States faces an urgent challenge in attempting to make quality health care available to those who need it, while simultaneously reining in the ballooning cost of medical care. Every dollar of health care funding is needed to provide tested, proven medical treatment to those who require it. It is inexcusable to squander scarce resources by funding unsubstantiated, non-evidence-based medical techniques that have no basis in theory or experiment…

any health care reform bill Congress passes should prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to cover non-evidence-based medicine. CFI further recommends that Congress greatly reduce or eliminate funding for the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), as a decade of study has shown that most alternative cures work no better than placebos. The United States can ill afford to continue wasting precious resources on unproven – and often disproven – medical techniques.”

The version I sent to my Representative replaced the first paragraph of the above with the one below and was otherwise the same.

I am writing to urge you to oppose recent efforts to include mandatory coverage of unproven alternative medical therapies in the health care reform legislation congress is currently considering. Under the guise of so-called “health care freedom” or “health care choice,” these efforts would force insurers and any government health plan to cover unproven or outright useless alternative therapies not based on any reasonable scientific evidence. As one of your constituents, I strongly support the following statement from a recent position paper on this topic from the Center for Inquiry about this topic:

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6 Responses to From CFI – Paying for Non-Evidence Based Health Care

  1. Ailesh says:

    Agree on all accounts. Sign me up; will copy and send along to my senators.

  2. Rita says:

    Not my fight, as I live in Social-Security covered Spain (Socialised medicine is great, don’t let anyone tell you different) and I don’t think US senators would listen, but I’m with you all the way – best of luck in fighting woo! – how maddening to have to PAY for this gubbins!
    Rita

  3. Noe says:

    Letters sent. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. v.t. says:

    Coinciding with the Gonzalez Trial post, maybe it’s time to stop trying to teach the gullible (is anyone really winning?) and spend more focus and energy at the heart of the matter. Regulation.

    Unfortunately, the current administration is poised to make a mockery of the health care system, it’s going to be more difficult than ever to fight CAM at any and all levels.

  5. skeptvet says:

    Welll, certainly regulation enforcing somee sort of reasonable scientific standarrds of evidence is ideal. It’s also completely impossible. The political process is not about establishing truth, it’s about balancing the competing interests of different constituencies. Truth comes in a distant second to consensus, unfortunately. The only way to achieve better regulation is to drive the consensus in the direction of supporting it, which means education.

  6. Pingback: Protest Government Protection of Unproven and Ineffective Medicine « The SkeptVet Blog

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